“What the Diff?” Youth Pastor vs. Pastor to Students

A friend of mine walked into his new church, met his teenagers, and one of them immediately asked, “Our last youth pastor bit the head off of a fish, so what are you going to do?”  He replied, “Teach you the Bible.”  All she said after that was, “Oh.”  She definitely wasn’t looking for a pastor to students…but a youth pastor.

A great friend of mine just wrote a post on his blog today about how many churches ask him ways to reach the teenagers of today.  Apparently he looks around and in so many words just says, “By not doing what you’re doing here.”  You can check out his blog at www.deaninserra.com

On the other hand, I remember talking to a youth pastor about a high school FCA meeting happening in town.  He said that they had over 100 kids showing up at 7am every Friday morning.  I asked him what they were doing once the kids showed up.  He literally looked at me and said, “Who cares what they’re doing!  They are getting over 100 kids to show up.  That’s amazing!”  Well, I beg to differ with you, Mr. Youth Pastor.  I can easily get more kids than that show up simply by offering a beer and bikini fest at any high school.  It does matter what you do, it does matter what you teach, it does matter how you do ministry!  There is a difference in being a youth pastor and a pastor to students.

Quick differences in youth pastors and pastors to students.  Youth pastors are those guys who want to be just like the youth, dress just like the youth, entertain the youth, and have fun with the youth.  They may challenge the youth when its cool, but they don’t want to be looked at as authority.  They don’t want to be like a “boring parent.”  Youth pastors do everything possible to stay cool, to just be a friend, and to be everyone’s favorite person…at the least favorite of the cool kids.

A pastor to student is the guy who believes he’s called to shepherd students and their families, who desperately wants to change the lives of students by teaching them the Word of God, who isn’t afraid to be genuine and himself to the students as an example to them, etc.  He does still want to be cool with them, but not to them.  He wants to have fun with them, but not at the cost of ministry.  He’s a guy who has a vision, who has a heart for students, who has a faith for Christ, and who has a passion for pastoring.

No matter what your title is, what you your church calls the man in charge of your teens, or what you’ve called yourself for the last 20 years…I’m not talking about a title!  I’m talking about a disposition, a character, a level of maturity, an approachable authoritative leader, and a shepherd to students.  If you’re the guy I’m talking about or you know him, my prayer is that our churches are equipped with pastors to students who take student ministry, teaching the Word, counseling families, modeling spirituality, leading leaders, and praying for the church…very seriously.  My goal is to raise up pastors to students within our student ministry here.

Lastly, please don’t be a pastor to student and become culturally irrelevant…or as my buddy Dean says “lame-o”.  Have fun with your students. Design a cool place for them to meet together.  Preach to them like they are teenagers and not little house on the prarie pupils.  Let them love Jesus and learn how to live for Him while being a teenager.  Show them how to be totally in this world, but not of this world.  Show them how to have fun while being a Christian.  Show them that authority is coo.  Show them that they can enjoy learning from the Bible.  Show them that they can have a passion for the church and a passion for the lost.  If you’re interested in a little more check out Dean’s blog post entitled “Not Lame” at http://deaninserra.com/dean/?p=176.

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